It makes almost no logical sense to promote your music as such anymore.
In short, what you now need is an ongoing, multi-channel content-marketing strategy.
Now, before you go running for the hills because of all the marketing buzzwords crammed into that previous sentence, let's see why we're not in Kansas anymore, Toto...
There was a time when music was a physical product. So, you or your label would promote your music. It made sense back then because promotion meant awareness. More importantly, music promotion meant sales. Ka-ching!
Yes, billions and billions went into major marketing spends across the world and billions and billions were made in return. Not always, but overall. It worked swimmingly, for a while.
That was then, this is now...
Love it or hate it. The music game has changed.
Music has gone from being a physical product that you sell to being just one more type of content.
Yes, music is still being sold, but it's more and more become a legacy thing, not the main driver of the music business it once was. Yes, I'm looking at you, vinyl!
The cold hard fact you probably know very well by this time is that streaming has crept in and taken over as the way most people consume their music. We all know how well that pays at the moment!
So, not only have things changed a bit, the entire paradigm has shifted.
When paradigms shift we need to shift our strategies.
Let's look at the paradigm shift a bit closer and see what it means when you need to promote your music.
OK, so music has become one more type of content. This means that it can, when good, become something that attracts attention, creates awareness and, dare I say it, exposure.
So, in one way, it helps to think of your music more as promotion in itself instead of something that you promote.
OK, yes, you may want to sell some downloads, push up your listens on Spotify and iTunes and get more people to listen to your music, but you don't just "promote" (read: shout from the rooftops) your music to get the results.
In other words...
We all know AAs. You may have muted an AA. You may have even outright blocked an AA. One thing you don't want, however, is to be an AA.
By now you've probably guessed it...
... we're talking about Annoying Artists.
You know the type.
The list goes on but every one of these statements are followed by an exclamation mark. That's because it's basically a type of screaming. Screaming in a forest where nobody hears you and even if they do, they don't care.
Look, it's not that announcing your work and trying to get people to listen to it is a bad idea, it's just not too effective as a way to promote your music online. So, announce your music but just don't think it's going to make any waves.
So, what's an artist or producer to do then?
You're in the content game now. Accept this as fact, first and foremost.
It's not just you. Everyone's in the content game.
We live in the age of smart phones and content is what people do on smart phones.
So, without content you're invisible.
Yes, your music is content. It's not enough by itself though. Music competes as a form of content with every other piece of content that gets pushed out every nanosecond by billions of people around the world.
So, just publishing and announcing music isn't enough.
Sure, you need to produce new music. Not just every now and then but often.
You also however need to produce non-music content if you want to attract and keep attention on you and your work.
It boils down to this...
The punters, or listeners/followers if you prefer, want new, good content. So, give them what they want on a regular basis.
It doesn't have to be the highest production quality on each piece of content you publish. It can be you talking to into your phone's camera. It can be a random behind-the-scenes image. It can be a quick Twitter post or share.
The main thing to remember here is that it should be completely focused on them and what they find interesting, educational or entertaining.
Attention online isn't free, ever. You pay for what you get.
Some attention is cheaper than other attention, sure. You always however pay for it in some way.
This may be by the sweat of your brow, by the time and effort you or your team invest, or by the capital you have available to direct into your marketing spend.
There are ways to get cheap attention, as long as you stay up to date with new developments in the online and social media spaces. For example:
There was a time when Google search was easier. Then everyone caught on to it and now it's a much more competitive landscape. The price for attention went up. The results you could achieve in a day now requires a week to do. Heck, there was a time where Facebook showed your posts to your followers without you having to boost the post. Remember when everything online music was all about MySpace? ;-)
Things change and they change fast. This is why it's a good idea to keep up to date with where the punters are spending time online and use the new platforms and new platform features as they hit the scene.
New companies have to grow so they spend money on that growth. In the same way established companies often spend money to promote new features. Start to use the services offered by these new companies or new features at the right time and you get to benefit from the cheap attention these companies are paying so dearly to get.
This too will pass. So, build your own thing...
The Annoying Artist produces music, then, when it's ready, unleashes a stream of exclamation marks and posts to announce to the world that it has been blessed with a new musical masterpiece.
You don't hear from them and then all of a sudden your feed is just them for a week and then...
The poor AA also hears crickets. It's just another type of silence. The silence of no likes, comments, shares and worse of all no sales or plays.
So, what's an AA to do? What should you be doing as a non-AA?
Instead of the above music promotion strategy of annoyance, you want to develop your three A's:
Let's have a closer look...
Assets are properties you outright own and that generate attention and revenues for you. These are assets because you own them, they are registered in your name or the name of your company and, as long as you've dotted your i's and crossed your t's legally and administratively, these assets are in your control and ownership.
Your 3 main music marketing assets are:
It's up to you and/or your team to establish and develop these 3 assets. This isn't, as you can probably imagine, a thing you just do once and forget about it. Yes, you'll get it up and running at first. Then you have to continue to develop each asset until it gets you the type of results you need. Only then can you properly call them assets.
In other words, you need to create a system for each to make sure it continues to be up-to-date and gets improved as time goes on.
This is your platform online. You're in charge. It's your responsibility to make it more valuable.
This means, yes, you want to make sure it looks good, works well but most of all...
... it satisfies the punters!
You want to also strengthen each asset over time.
So, you want to increase the traffic your website attracts, update your EPK with new achievements to keep it fresh and grow your mailing list.
Your sources of attention are any social media platforms and other online services where you can find new listeners and followers to attract to your own assets.
You don't own any of these platforms, so they don't qualify as assets. This isn't to say the followings you grow on these platforms aren't valuable to you. They're extremely important to develop as a way to get your music out there and grow your own assets. It's just that the companies that own these assets can revoke access to them at any moment and there's very little you can easily do to reverse such a decision.
So, you may focus all your efforts online in developing a following on one platform and suddenly it's gone.
This is why you want a multi-channel strategy for your music marketing. The less dependent you are on any one platform for all your attention, the more resilient your whole operation becomes.
So, develop your presence on the platforms that make sense to you. Just make sure you focus on developing your own assets as a priority and develop more than one source of attention.
Here are 5 of the most important social platforms to consider as an artist or producer:
We'll take a look at each platform in separate posts. For now, let's take a look at the broader strategy first. Below are some things to keep in mind when you start to look into how to promote your music on social media.
Get your logo, profile pics and bio up on each network you choose to use. Customize each platform to match your style and image as much as you can. Make sure you provide as much details on each platform as possible.
This is basic housekeeping.
Each platform has a native type of content that does well on the platform. You probably know this by now already.
Twitter is good for shorter commentary or news-sharing type posts, with it's 280 word per post limit. Facebook is better for stories or longer updates. Instagram works well with more visual content like images and videos. You know YouTube is pretty much all about video and Soundcloud is all about audio content. That's the basics.
What type of stories will you share on Facebook? What type of images will you post on Instagram? Which videos on YouTube? What music and audio will you post on Soundcloud?
This is where social media becomes all about content again. It's up to you to create a strategy for this content. You want to figure out the why, what, when and how of your content. Then, create it and roll it out.
We're not talking about a bit of content every now and then. We're talking about constant, consistent content.
So, you'll need to develop a systematic way to deliver new content on a regular basis.
Here's 4 practical tips for your content system as an artist and producer:
In short, sporadic content is a result of not having a system for content delivery in place, and sporadic content doesn't get results in the long run. So, develop a system to get your content created and published often and consistently.
Make sure you direct the attention you get on these platforms to your own assets where and when you can.
You can get people to sign up for your mailing list on your Facebook page. You can link to your website in some way shape or form on most social media platforms. You can do it through posts on some platforms and in the description area in others.
Now, keep in mind that it's not easy to get people to your assets from these platforms. Some work better than others in this regard. Still, even the little bits of attention you do get is better than no attention at all.
We want to satisfy the punters, remember? This means you want to have your music available on the platforms where they're most likely to listen.
Some people use Spotify, others prefer iTunes or Apple Music. Be on both and more!
Lucky for artists and producers like me and you it's easier than ever to distribute your music to the most important online music marketplaces and streaming sites. It's simply a case of using a good music distribution service.
Now, most of the online retailers and streaming sites won't help to promote your music unless you manage to get on a hot playlist. Just having your music on these sites is important however because it gives your listeners access and makes it possible for them to share your music more easily.
You start by getting the 3 A's system in place and operational. Then you work it by providing new content on a consistent basis.
The consistent stream of content, as long as it satisfies the punters, will keep you at the front of their minds and grow your following. This means that when you announce your new music they'll be there. They're visiting your website, they're on your mailing list, they're following and engaging on social media. Not just when you release new tracks but even in between releases.
Your Electronic Press Kit will be fresh and loaded with tidbits for the press and media and potential partners and collaborators.
The rest is all about the real connection you can establish with the people who come in contact with you, your brand and your work. Your content plays a big role here too. That, and more direct contact like emails and messaging.
So, to answer the question in a step-by-step way:
"How Do You Promote Your Music Online Effectively, Without Annoying Everyone?"
Once you have these basics in place and working then you can move on to actual strategies to market your music.
You don't promote your music effectively online by just announcing your new music. Multiple posts around release time will probably not do you any good if it happens in a vacuum.
An ongoing multi-channel content-marketing strategy, when executed well, will get you the following and attention you need. So, when you release new music you'll already have people who are wanting to hear it.
The key thing to take away from this post is that you promote your music without being annoying when you provide ongoing value to your tribe and potential tribe members.
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